You may be reading headlines and hearing talk about a potential housing bubble or a crash, but it’s important to understand that the data and expert opinions tell a different story. A recent survey from Pulsenomics asked over one hundred housing market experts and real estate economists if they believe the housing market is in a bubble. The results indicate most experts don’t think that’s the case.
Here are 5 reasons we aren't in a housing bubble, but just moving into a more normal market.
1.) Low housing inventory is causing home prices to rise.
The supply of homes available for sale needed to sustain a normal real estate market is approximately six months. Anything more than that is an overabundance, and will causes prices to depreciate. Anything less than that is a shortage, and will lead to continued price appreciation.
As the graph below shows, there were too many homes for sale from 2007 to 2010 (many of which were short sales and forclosures), and that caused prices to tumble. Today, there’s still a shortage of inventory, which is causing ongoing home price appreciation (see graph below):
Inventory is nothing like the last time. Prices are rising because there’s a healthy demand for homeownership, at the same time there’s a limited supply of homes for sale. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, explains:
“The fundamentals driving house price growth in the U.S. remain intact. . . . The demand for homes continues to exceed the supply of homes for sale, which is keeping house price growth high.”
2.) Deceleration does not = Depreciation
Experts in the real estate industry use a number of terms when they talk about what’s happening with home prices. Some of those words sound a bit similar but mean very different things. To help clarify what’s happening with home prices and where experts say they’re going, here’s a look at a few terms you may hear:
Appreciation is when home prices increase.
Depreciation is when home prices decrease.
Deceleration is when home prices continue to appreciate, but at a slower pace.
Where Home Prices Have Been in Recent Years
For starters, you’ve probably heard home prices have skyrocketed over the past two years, but homes were actually appreciating long before that. You might be surprised to learn that home prices have climbed for 122 consecutive months (see graph below):
As the graph shows, houses have gained value consistently over the past 10 consecutive years. However, since 2020, the increase has been more dramatic as home price growth accelerated.
So why did home prices climb so much? It’s because there were more buyers than there were homes for sale. That imbalance put upward pressure on home prices because demand was high and supply was low.
Where Experts Say Home Prices Are Going
While this is helpful context, if you’re a buyer or seller in today’s market, you probably want to know what’s going to happen with home prices moving forward. Will they continue that same growth path or will home prices fall?
Experts are forecasting ongoing appreciation, just at a decelerated pace. In other words, prices will keep climbing, just not as fast as they have been. The graph below shows home price forecasts from seven industry leaders. None are calling for prices to fall(see graph below):
Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, identifies a key reason why home prices won’t depreciate or drop:
“In today’s housing market, demand for homes continues to outpace supply, which is keeping the pressure on house prices, so don’t expect house prices to decline.”
Although housing supply is starting to tick up, it’s not enough to make home prices decline because there’s still a gap between the number of homes available for sale and the volume of buyers looking to make a purchase.
Terry Loebs, Founder of the research firm Pulsenomics, notes that most real estate experts and economists anticipate home prices will continue rising. As he puts it:
“With home values at record-high levels and avast majority of experts projecting additional price increases this year and beyond, home prices and expectations remain buoyant.”
3.) Market Slowing Down = Stabilization
The housing market is moderating compared to the last two years, but what everyone needs to remember is that the past two years were record-breaking in nearly every way. Record-low mortgage rates and millenials reaching peak homebuying years led to an influx of buyer demand. At the same time, there weren’t enough homes available to purchase thanks to many years of underbuilding and sellers who held off on listing their homes due to the health crisis.
This combination led to record-high demand and record-low supply, and that wasn’t going to be sustainable for the long term. The latest data shows early signs of a shift back to the market pace seen in the years leading up to the pandemic –not a crash nor a correction.
Home Showings Then and Now
The ShowingTime Showing Index tracks the traffic of home showings according to agents and brokers. It’s a good indication of buyer demand. Here’s a look at that data going back to 2019 (see graph below):
The 2019 numbers give a good baseline of pre-pandemic demand. As the graph indicates, home showings skyrocketed during the pandemic. And while current buyer demand has begun to moderate slightly based on the latest data, showings are still above 2019 levels.
And since 2019 was such a strong year for the housing market, this helps show that the market isn't crashing – it’s just at a turning point that’s moving back toward more pre-pandemic levels.
Existing Home Sales Then and Now
Headlines are also talking about how existing home sales are declining, but perspective matters. Here’s a look at existing home sales going all the way back to 2019 using data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) (see graph below):
Again, a similar story emerges. The pandemic numbers beat the more typical year of 2019 home sales. And according to the latest projections for 2022, the market is on pace to close this year with more home sales than 2019 as well.
It’s important to compare today not to the abnormal pandemic years, but to the most recent normal year to show the current housing market is still strong.
If recent headlines are generating any concerns, look at a more typical year for perspective. The current market is not a crash or correction. It’s just a turning point toward more typical, pre-pandemic levels. Let’s connect if you have any questions about our local market and what it means for you when you buy or sell this year.
4. Mortgage Lending Standards Today Are Nothing Like the Last Time
During the housing bubble, it was much easier to get a mortgage than it is today. Here’s a graph showing the mortgage volume issued to purchasers with a credit score less than 620 during the housing boom, and the subsequent volume in the years after:
This graph helps show one element of why mortgage standards are nothing like they were the last time. Purchasers who acquired a mortgage over the last decade are much more qualified than they were in the years leading up to the crash. Realtor.com notes:
“. . . Lenders are giving mortgages only to the most qualified borrowers. These buyers are less likely to wind up in foreclosure.”
5.) Homeownership is a Hedge Against Inflation
Today, inflation is at a 40 year high. According to the National Associaton ofHome Builders (NAHB):
“Consumer prices accelerated again in May as shelter, energy and food prices continued to surge at the fastest pace in decades. This marked the third straight month for inflation above an 8% rate and was the largest year-over-year gain since December 1981.”
With inflation rising, you’re likely feeling it impact your day-to-day life as prices go up for gas, groceries, and more. These climbing consumer costs can put a pinch on your wallet and make you re-evaluate any big purchases you have planned to ensure they’re still worthwhile.
If you’ve been thinking about purchasing a home this year, you’re probably wondering if you should continue down that path or if it makes more sense to wait. While the answer depends on your situation, here’s how homeownership can help you combat the rising costs that come with inflation.
Homeownership Helps You Stabilize One of Your Biggest Monthly Expenses
Investopedia explains that during a period of high inflation, prices rise across the board. That’s true for things like food, entertainment, and other goods and services, even housing. Both rental prices and home prices are on the rise. So, as a buyer, how can you protect yourself from increasing costs? The answer lies in homeownership.
Buying a home allows you to stabilize what’s typically your biggest monthly expense: your housing cost. When you have a fixed-rate mortgage on your home, you lock in your monthly payment for the duration of your loan, often 15 to 30 years. James Royal, Senior Wealth Management Reporter at Bankrate, says:
“A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to maintain the biggest portion of housing expenses at the same payment. Sure, property taxes will rise and other expenses may creep up, but your monthly housing payment remains the same. That’s certainly not the case if you’re renting.”
So even if other prices increase, your housing payment will be a reliable amount that can help keep your budget in check. If you rent, you don’t have that same benefit, and you won’t be protected from rising housing costs.
Investing in an Asset That Historically Outperforms Inflation
While it’s true rising home prices and higher mortgage rates mean that buying a house today costs more than it did even a few months ago, you still have an opportunity to set yourself up for a long-term win. That’s because, in inflationary times, you want to be invested in an asset that outperforms inflation and typically holds or grows in value.
The graph below shows how the average home price appreciation outperformed the average inflation rate in most decades going all the way back to the seventies – making homeownership a historically strong hedge against inflation (see graph below):
So, what does that mean for you? Today, experts forest home prices will only go up from here thanks to the ongoing imbalance of supply and demand. Once you buy a house, any home price appreciation that does occur will grow your equity and your net worth. And since homes are typically assets that grow in value, you have peace of mind that history shows your investment is a strong one.
That means, if you’re ready and able, it makes sense to buy today before prices rise further.